National programme launched to reduce illegal supply of guns

1st ever Community Violence Audit coming to Norwood and Denham Town

June 21, 2022
Students performing at launch of Reducing-Guns project

"These are some serious times", sing students of Rose Heart Preparatory School in Norwood Jamaica. They were performing at the launch of the Reducing Small Arms and Light Weapons Joint Programme (SALIENT Jamaica)


A national programme targeting the illegal trade in guns to Jamaica and the root causes of violence, will run until December 2022 under a new project being implemented by the Government of Jamaica in partnership with the United Nations system in Jamaica. 

At the national level, the Reducing Small Arms and Light Weapons Joint Programme, otherwise known as SALIENT Jamaica, targets all dimensions of the illegal trade in guns which accounts for more than 80% of homicides in Jamaica. The 12-month programme which started in January 2022, is to include interventions in legislation, policy, strategy, training, investigations, law enforcement and data collection. 

SALIENT Jamaica also seeks to reduce violence through policy reform and behavior modification training in schools, and to research the roots of violence by conducting Jamaica’s first ever community Violence Audit, to be piloted in Norwood and Denham Town. 

Launched on Friday (17 June) in Norwood, SALIENT Jamaica represents a 76.3 million JMD investment from the SALIENT Fund established by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Organization for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA). SALIENT will be implemented by UNDP, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in partnership with the Ministry of National Security. 

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, the Hon. Dr Horace Chang welcomed the Programme as one leg in the fight against the illicit gun trade, with a specific focus on small arms and light weapons. “The handgun is the choice weapon for perpetuating crime in Jamaica. Once they earn income, they buy a gun. Reducing supply of firearms is therefore critical to reducing violence,” he observed. The National Security Minister said interrupting the supply of guns will also depend on Jamaica’s working partnerships with international agencies and partners to the north where the guns are bought easily and transshipped to Jamaica’s borders.

Dr Chang also underscored the need for the community violence audit.  “The level of violence (being perpetuated) requires this kind of study to be undertaken.  Violence has been normalized. We need to examine how young men play together, work together and then overnight, start killing each other. There is a need to identify root causes so when security forces move out of the ZOSO, the peace can be maintained,” he stated.  

“The United Nations (UN) in Jamaica is committed to supporting and working alongside the people and government of Jamaica to turn the tide on the illegal use of small arms and the resulting epidemic of homicide and assault that this has perpetrated on Jamaican society,” UN Resident Coordinator, Dr Garry Conille said in his remarks. He said a multi-dimensional, multi partner and multi sectoral approach is required to respond to the level of criminal activity in the society. 

Dr Conille called on Jamaicans at home and in the Diaspora to see themselves as change agents and to reject participation in the illegal trade of guns while actively participating in the transformation required to build peace in Jamaica. “There should be no family, community or institution that provides a safe haven for criminal elements no matter who they are, where they live or where they work”, he declared.

UNDP Resident Representative Denise E Antonio in explaining the importance of the Violence Audit said the exercise is intended to unveil the causes, drivers, and impact of violence to guide strategic interventions for the future. She called on the target communities to cooperate with survey teams and to fully participate. “Your communities bring meaningful insight and deep understanding of the violence being experienced,” she said. Residents of Norwood and Denham Town, our team will be out to conduct the audit and we need your full participation to ensure that accurate and relevant information is shared,” she said. 
“SALIENT aims to dismantle the factors that make it possible for guns to flow into the country, and into the hands of criminals while addressing the root causes of violence. Therefore, expertise from the policy and law enforcement branches, combined with your experience will help us secure impact,” the Resident Representative outlined.

She said under the behaviour modification component students will receive training in conflict resolution while the capacities of teachers and guidance counsellors will be built to reduce violence in schools.  Ms Antonio said SALIENT will also build on any existing project that demonstrates the potential to help cut the supply and use of firearms in schools and communities.  

SALIENT Jamaica is a Joint Programme of the United Nations system in Jamaica and is aligned to Jamaica’s National Development Goal Two (2)- “The Jamaican society is secure, cohesive and just” and several Sustainable Development Goals including 16, (Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions); 4 (Quality Education) and 5 (Gender Equality).